Double Coverage: Seahawks vs. Packers, Week 1
The play has several nicknames and a place among the most memorable and controversial moments in recent NFL history.
But what the disputed touchdown that gave Seattle a win over Green Bay in 2012 won’t have is any bearing on Thursday’s regular-season opener between those same teams.
With that in mind, I reached out to ESPN.com Packers reporter Rob Demovsky with this assurance: no “Fail Mary” questions. Now that the obligatory mention of that play is out of the way, here’s the 2014 debut of Simultaneous – I mean – Double Coverage.
Henderson: Eddie Lacy looks like a potential star in the making after a terrific rookie season. His build and physical running style have led to comparisons to Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch. For those who haven’t watched Lacy play a great deal, which includes myself, is that an accurate comparison?
Demovsky: It’s accurate in the sense that both are tackle-breaking machines. Nearly half of Lacy’s rushing yards last season came after first contact. Some backs absorb contact, others initiate it. Lacy is definitely in the latter category. Lynch has lasted a while playing that way. The question with Lacy is will he last as long?
Henderson: The Packers have an awfully good pass-rushing duo after signing Julius Peppers this offseason to pair with Clay Matthews. Peppers seemed to rush from all over the place when he was with Chicago. How does it look like the Packers intend to use him and how much do you think he has left at 34 years old?
Demovsky: It’s the first time in Peppers’ 13-year career that he’s playing in a 3-4 scheme and instead of playing defensive end with his hand on the ground, he’s playing outside linebacker with the Packers. They say that want to limit his snaps and don’t want him playing 800 plays like he did last season, but every indication is that he’s going to be a major part of every defensive package they have. You might also see him dropping into coverage on occasion. It’s been hard to gauge how much he’s got in the tank because he has sort of cruised through training camp like any 34-year-old might.
Henderson: B.J. Raji is considered one of the better interior defensive linemen in the league. For those who only know him from his cameo in one of Aaron Rogers’ State Farm commercials, how big of a blow was losing him to a season-ending biceps injury?
Demovsky: As far as injuries go, I’m not sure so Raji’s the most costly one of the Packers. Yes, Raji is the most recognizable player on the Packers’ roster to sustain an injury, but they lost center JC Tretter to a knee injury, and that might hurt them more. As a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme, Raji was only going to play about 25-30 percent of the snaps. Losing Tretter is a blow because they spent the entire offseason grooming him to be the new starting center, and now they have to go with a rookie fifth-round pick, Corey Linsley, who didn’t get any preseason game reps with Rodgers.
Henderson: An understandably forgotten part of that Seahawks-Packers game in 2012 was Green Bay allowing eight sacks in the first half. I know that was two seasons ago, but the offensive line has seemed like a constant problem for the Packers. Where does that unit stand heading into the season?
Demovsky: They feel better about their line – even with the injury to Tretter – than they have in a while. Their other four spots are solid, and they might have their best two tackles – David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga – than they’ve had since the early 2000s, when Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher were the bookends for the O-line. I’d be surprised if they had the same kind of trouble protecting Rodgers this time around. Some of that, too, was the fact that the Seahawks secondary did such a good job covering the Packers’ receivers, forcing Rodgers to hold on to the ball.
Henderson: The teams that gave Seattle trouble last season all had one or two things in common: a disruptive front seven and/or an exceptional quarterback. The Packers may have the former and they certainly have the latter, which is why I expect this game to be decided by single digits. Rodgers might be the best quarterback on the planet not named Peyton Manning, and one of his strengths is his ability to extend plays. But that’s much easier said than done against a sticky secondary like that of the Seahawks, and it could even lead to a big defensive play or two in Seattle’s favor. Seahawks 30, Packers 23.
Demovsky: The Packers have been gearing up for this game all offseason, and they have some surprises planned for the Seahawks that just might be enough to throw them off and pull off the upset. Packers 27, Seahawks 24.